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The oppression or violation of children, especially poor children. This is a systematic phenomenon. Children are granted no voice, no bodily integrity, and no inherent worth by the adults who are their caretakers. If they are lucky like Claudia and Frieda MacTeer, they learn resistance strategies. If they are unlucky like Pecola Breedlove, they learn various kinds of disempowered responses. They internalize their oppression, they identify with their oppressors and they begin to believe that their oppression is just and proper.
Internalized racism, the kind of thinking produced when African Americans--or any group targeted by racism--begin to believe the stereotypes about themselves and imagine that European Americans are superior. In the novel, this phenomenon is embodied in the worship of blonde, blue-eyed baby dolls for little girls and in the color hierarchy of lighter-to darker-skinned African Americans.
The mood of The Bluest Eye is tragic. Morrison structures the narrative as a memory of a woman named Claudia MacTeer. Claudia remembers her tenth year spent in her hometown of Lorain, Ohio. During this year, Claudia fought the ideological war on her self esteem. She was inundated with talk and images which asserted her inferiority in terms of physical beauty and the superiority of white girls like Shirley Temple. The tragedy was in the community’s acceptance of this color ideology and its cruel treatment of black children as a result. Closely connected was the tragedy of Pecola Breedlove, who was raped by her father and convinced by her community that only blue eyed girls were beautiful.